It’s that time of year again; assessing, analyzing, and adjusting your online marketing campaign for the coming year. While your plan has probably been firmly in place for the past six months, now is your opportunity to review your plans to be certain that you are investing in the right mediums for your business, and directing your campaign towards the best strategy possible.
While 2020 forced many businesses to adopt rapid change, adjust strategy on the fly and adapt to fast-shifting consumer attitudes and demands, 2021 has been more settled. Consumers have become accustomed to restricted markets, online shopping, snap lockdowns, and extreme delays caused by the disaster that is Brexit. Individuals and businesses have found alternatives to trade with the UK, and everyone has come to accept the reality of a changing world in which a pandemic dictates the terms of living.
So how does all this influence your marketing? Let’s have a look at the digital marketing channels and opportunities that are expected to trend next year.
Digital marketing trends for 2022
Now that people are shopping almost exclusively online, you need to be sure that any products or services you sell are highly interactive on your website. People want to get a sense of how your product or service will look, work and feel. Adding interactive elements to your website will drive traffic and engage audiences if they are well done.
Examples of interactive marketing include:
Influence marketing is proving to be less effective during the pandemic. Many tone-deaf celebrities, socialites, and internet names failed to understand not only the severity of the pandemic and its repercussions on the lives of millions of people, but many flouted the rules and offended audiences by traveling or complaining about their privileged lives in lockdown. These same influencers have proven to be very expensive and not very well received. Research shows that celebrities or influencers who have accumulated more than 1 million followers ask for five or six-digit sums per post.
However, micro-influencers seem to have a much more powerful influence on purchasing decisions. Micro-influencers tend to have more loyal followers, meaning that the people who are engaged become more actively involved with your content and they tend to work in more niche markets.
Using micro-influencers will be one of the biggest trends in digital marketing for 2022. Carefully select the influencers who best represent your brand to reach your audience, and know that you are using an organic approach, rather than a carefully curated approach, so many things can go wrong. You’ll need careful contracts and the ability to fast distance your brand from any influencers who find themselves on the wrong side of public opinion – which happens, often!
User-generated content (UGC)
UGC, or content that is created by your customers and users, has always been held in high regard by customers. Shoppers look for reviews and testimonials, often accepting the recommendations of other customers over anything a brand promotes. As a brand, promoting UGC is simple, and can be easily accessed on social media platforms.
Brands should aim to promote:
- Evaluations on platforms such as Tripadvisor, Yelp, Medium, and others
- Reviews on blogs and specialized publications
- Comments on the brand’s social media
- Text and video posts on users’ social networks
UGC is an authentic marketing tool that helps to grow your brand organically – or so it seems. When you engage with the promotion of UGC, you are helping to spread the word about your brand. The strategy has become a cornerstone of many brands’ marketing strategies. Research shows that UGC far exceeds the content created by a brand, and it is therefore not only cost-effective, but it connects communities with brands and drives engagement, particularly if brands are promoting customers’ Instagram pics.
Brands operating in the digital landscape are looking to their customers for the type of content they want to see and either publicize it themselves or mimic the content.
UGC is appealing to audiences for a few reasons:
- Relationship building
- Personal publicity
Social media is all about the promotion of mostly unattainable lifestyles, humblebrags, and illusions of reality. Brands that understand how their online community connects with this unreality are the most successful at UGC marketing.
Because this type of marketing is considered real or authentic in social media, it connects better than using celebrities or influencers, because audiences see themselves in the community of ‘ordinary’ people, a phenomenon that has taken hold during the pandemic, as people struggle with lockdowns, poor mental health, and uncertainty.
Social network sales
Some social networks allow businesses to use accounts as sales channels. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest have made direct purchasing through their platforms a way for smaller businesses to capitalize on traffic scrolling their news feeds.
The trend has made social commerce one of the biggest predicted trends in digital marketing for 2022. Increasing numbers of shoppers are using social media platforms to make purchases, based on the UGC and the constant promotion of products that are related to user search histories.
Buyable posts are becoming more popular, despite consumers being very aware of the highly targeted approach. Customers are more likely to make a purchase when presented with a simplified shopping experience, which is why social media commerce is connecting with customers.
Live video is one of the most popular types of online content, with Instagram Live and Facebook Live pushed to the head of news feeds. It is estimated that about one in five Facebook videos were live streams and 1 million Instagram users watched live videos every day in 2020 when people were at their most vulnerable and bored.
Other platforms, such as Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn are also planning to launch live video streaming services as well. In 2019, Internet users reportedly watched 1.1 billion hours of live video, and since the pandemic, it is expected that that rate has increased. This was largely due to many workplaces moving online, but also the hosting of events, such as fashion shows, gigs, and other entertainment hosted by professionals and amateurs alike.
Ephemeral content on different platforms
Ephemeral content is visual content that is accessible for a limited time, usually 24 hours. It is a very popular type of content on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The content is presented as:
- Video recorded or broadcast live
Facebook has more than 1.66 billion active daily users and Instagram has about 800 million. Snapchat’s 187 million daily active users create about 1 million pieces of ephemeral content every day. This form of connection is seen as urgent, exclusive, and drives traffic online. As a business, this form of marketing and urgency can be capitalized on to grow engagement, drive sales and make exclusive offers.
In times of great turbulence, there is a natural societal pull towards nostalgia, a belief that before this current time, things were better – even if they weren’t. This is very powerful in marketing, and it is a very successful trend right now when people want a way to escape the reality of the ongoing pandemic woes.
Nostalgia marketing explores the oldest and most familiar trends of the past, and right now it seems that anything from the 90s is on-trend and connecting with young people. On the one hand, people who grew up in the 90s are now approaching 40 and want to feel young and connected, while those in their teens see the era as one of great prosperity and a time when the world was simple, before the introduction of the Internet and constant connection, the last era of quiet.
In 2022, marketers can capitalize on the draw of nostalgia marketing, reminding audiences of simpler times, a more contended connection, and the illusion of happiness frozen in time.
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